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Vicky Cristina Barcelona, by Woody Allen

Posted by dlandgren on 2008-10-22

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Saw the latest Woody Allen last night. We had seen Match Point, although we took a pass on Scoop. We nearly didn’t go to VCB at all, because the trailer was so awful. It was only on a friend’s advice that we did.

Like Match Point, Allen continues to explore the darker side of human relations, in the sense that nobody gets out unscathed. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) throws everything away and Vicky (Rebecca Hall) ends up heading into a marriage of dubious merit. Right up until the closing scene I kept hoping that there’d be a happy ending™, but no, it was not to be.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Films don’t have to be escapist fluff, and I like the direction that Woody Allen has taken over the past decade. It’s just that at the final scene when it fades to black, announcing the credits, my only thought was “What? It ends now?”

The major flaw with the film is the godawful voice-over. For a start the voice itself is completely at odds with the subject. Worse, on a number of occasions the use is completely gratuitous, running rough-shod over an otherwise subtle storyline. It creates an unnecessary barrier between the viewer and the film. It’s almost as if the narrator wants to pin the characters down like insects under glass or move them around like chess pieces, rather than let them live free and make their own mistakes. Everything is preordained and will come to pass, just as the narrator tells us.

On the plus side, the soundtrack is excellent, all Spanish flamenco and what not. There’s a particularly haunting track that I think I taped off a late-night Nova mix years ago. I’d like to be able to track that one down. Allen also lets PenĂ©lope Cruz and Javier Bardem carry out several conversations in Spanish, which I imagine won’t go down too well in America.

All in all, not too shabby. It won’t go down as one of his best but still enjoyable.

Update: I managed to track down the song, thanks to Amazon. It’s Entre dos aguas by Paco de Lucia. Turns out there’s a clip or two on Youtube. My god, it’s 32 years old. Check out the hairstyle.

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